Beautiful picnic spots and walks by John Keo:

The Route of The Taverns

The Route of The Taverns (Ruta de la Venta) was one of the most famous of the mule routes over the Sierra Almijara. In the days before refrigerated trucks, the transport of fish from the coast to the inland cities was a difficult and sometimes dangerous task. According to the local muleteers, they would leave the coast with the fish heavily salted at about three or four in the morning and they would trek over the mountain passes to the town of Santa Fe next to Granada City to deliver the fish to market.

They would arrive in Santa Fe at about seven in the evening having trekked for 70 kilometres over 1200 metres high in order to deliver the fist on the same day and ready for market the next morning. 70 kilometres in roughly 19 hours. It can be done in one hour by motorway and truck nowadays but up until the 1940s the route was usually made once a week by the hardy mules and their masters, the muleteers, Los Arrieros.

The route was lined with taverns every two or three kilometres; Acebuchal, Venta Tio Pepe, Venta Camilla. One of my favourites is Venta Panaderos (The Baker’s Tavern). This was the last tavern before crossing the pass into Granada. At 1000 metres high, it was quite a large inn with space for stables, for sleeping, eating and drinking under one roof. Looking down over the spring waters for the Rio Higueron, it was an isolated place, the last stop saloon and was frequented by traders, farmers, bandits and police over the centuries. There is the famous story of the Maquis Guerrillas abandoning their hot meal in the tavern sometime during the 1940s Mountain War because the Guardia Civil were arriving. The policemen simply entered the tavern and finished the good hot meal that was simply sitting there on the table.

As views go, the vista from the Venta Panaderos is simply stunning.

Once a year myself, Antonio, Sebastian from Restaurant El Acebuchal and Paco Ahumado (Smokey Paco) and Antonio el Zumba (Fighting Anto), our Muleteers, load up our two trusty mules with food and drinks to feed thirty people and retrace the steps back to the old Venta where we have a lovely picnic and enjoy the views.

We’ll be going again on the 30th December if you would like to experience just a little of what life was like for a Muleteers and observe how well the animal could cope with the steep and rocky terrain.

This walk takes us deep into the Sierra Almijara Natural Park. It’s a great wilderness and yet so close to civilisation being no more than 20 kms from the coast as the crow flies. Out here in the high passes it’s possible to be completely cut off from your fellow man and yet you can be as closely connected to nature as you could ever imagine. It’s a five hour round trip from El Acebuchal with a total ascent of 500 metres and it’s well worth the effort required.

John Keo Walking Tours

Hiking and Walking in Nerja, Frigiliana, Maro and El Acebuchal.

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